Ubi Est Mea

Ubi Est Mea

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Throwback Thursday

It’s a Throwback Thursday twofer today!  Here’s a post, originally written on 6/8/2012 for SpiritualBDSM.com . . .

It’s said that all power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  So, with that in mind, how does a dominant avoid the corruption and personal decay that can accompany the wielding of power?

Well, as a beginning, it’s an absolute necessity to know thine enemy.  So, it’s essential, at least in my slightly less than perfectly humble opinion, that dominants study and understand the human tendency towards becoming narcissistic.

If everywhere you look you find faults in others, but you fail to see the very same human tendencies and behaviors in yourself, you are either perfect (I’ve never met this individual and don’t expect that I ever will) or you are a narcissist.

Narcissus by Caravaggio (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome)

This essay’s title was originally proposed by columnist Mike Royko as a potential motto for Chicago.  Ubi Est Mea is Latin, the phrase translates to mean “where’s mine”, an apt description not only of that city’s machine politics, but also as a phrase that very well describes the basic attitude of a narcissist.

At times in my life I have been surrounded by narcissism, so much so that I almost began believing that such behavior was actually the norm.  It’s not a pretty way to look at life, so I’m thankful to have been rescued by a wonderful and thoughtful woman who you, my dear reader, know as Serafina.

To define narcissism for the purposes of today’s essay, we’ll head on over to Wikipedia, where we read:

Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait. Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, “narcissism” usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person or group’s relationships with self and others. In everyday speech, “narcissism” often means egoism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.

So let’s be clear, there’s a certain amount of narcissism we all need to properly survive in this world, essentially that’s the measure of self love that we must have in order to make healthy choices for ourselves.  Beyond that point, however, as a person becomes almost entirely focused on self, it becomes a disorder.

When involved in any sort of a relationship with a narcissist, (be it familial, platonic friendship, or romantic love) it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, as individuals overwhelmed by narcissistic desires are very good at manipulating people and situations in order to fulfill their own desires.  It took me years to break patterns of behavior I’d adopted in order to survive while surrounded by narcissists.  And, in some ways, it’s still a struggle for me today, everyday, to break the chains that held me down.

I’m convinced that my ex-wife, the woman I call Blissful Torment here at the SpiritualBDSM blog, was a narcissist in the classic sense.  To further explain what I mean in saying that, I’ll again revert to the ubiquitous Wikipedia:

The word narcissism comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus “lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour”.

My former partner was a beautiful woman, and she knew it.  She never tired of mirrors, and she loved staring at her own reflection as she went about nightly rituals involving herself, things like brushing or curling her own hair.

Now please don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing the matter with having a healthy sense of self worth and self love, and there’s nothing wrong with caring for one’s appearance either.  The act wasn’t wrong in and of itself, but it did serve as an important clue I might have caught and recognized in terms of her relationships with others.

I might have caught on when Ms Torment told me of her past relationships with men.  Her theory was that most men used and abused women sexually, so she became determined to turn the tables.  She set out to use men for sex as she pleased, with little or no regard for their feelings or emotions.

She told me that I was different, and I convinced myself despite all evidence to the contrary, that I really was going to be different enough from most other men, that I’d elicit real change in her behavior.  Little did I know at that time, how difficult it can be to avoid being trapped in narcissism’s web of destruction.

I found this picture of a cheating Ms Torment (circa the 1990’s) on tumblr about a year ago.
The sleeping bag, pillow and wife I recognize as being mine at the time the photo was shot, but the semen of multiple men which covers her face and chest, quite obviously, was not.

Supposedly, the reason for Ms Torment’s attitude towards men, was a part of her personal past.  At a young age, she and a brother had discovered pictures of her father engaged in a series of intimate acts with a series of different women, none of them her Mom.  She confided in me that it was the most devastating thing she’d ever experienced.  Isn’t it ironic that she turned around and did the exact same thing to me?

Sadly, it was something I should have expected, because in the end, that’s how narcissists work, they tend live a “consequences be damned” lifestyle, and they leave a wide swath of destruction in their wake.  When you hitch up with one, it can be a fun filled ride, but make no mistake, sooner or later you’ll end up in that destructive wake yourself, unless of course you start cutting your own . . .

With that in mind, I write this essay today to publicly acknowledge that during the time I found myself sharing a bed, a home, and a life with a narcissist, I too fell into destructive patterns which caused harm to the feelings of others.  It was all too easy . . .

You see, at the end of her life, my Mother was also very much a narcissist.  And, it’s Serafina’s observation, that Mom actively encouraged narcissistic behavior among the women in my life.  I suppose it was a sort of divide and conquer theory, as she probably figured it was easier to use my wife’s behavior to influence and control me than to try to do so herself.

If you think that being surrounded by a dedicated cadre of female narcissists was bad enough, consider that I also worked for a narcissist individual when I worked in government.  It’s clear to me now in retrospect, that most elected officials are themselves narcissists.  It’s an inherent flaw in our republican form of democracy.  In a representative form of democracy, narcissists are the individuals most likely to be called to what we currently call “public office”.

Why are we surprised when politicians say one thing to get elected, then do something else upon taking office?  To a narcissist, promises need only be kept if the consequences of breaking the trust are going to be greater than they wish to pay.  Their word is only as good as their current inclination.

And that’s exactly how I got drawn into destructive practices and relationships.  Because I cherished my former wife, far too many times I took her side in conflicts with friends, family, and other lovers.  I was an active participant in the destruction left in her wake.  By the time she was done, the only thing worth salvaging was my relationship with Serafina.

My ex told me once that she’d hate me forever for choosing Serafina over her, as this was perhaps the only important point where I’d stood my ground and told her she couldn’t simply do as she pleased.  The relationship with Serafina was saved simply because I finally developed the moral turpitude to say to Ms Torment, “No, you can’t have your way this time, other people’s lives are at stake, enough is enough.”

As a dominant, falling into destructive behaviors can far too easy.  After all, dominants tend to be “large and in charge,” and as a group we tend to be rather controlling, as that’s often our nature.  As dominants, when we fail to stay balanced, we fall prey to “Top’s disease” which can be described as: “The tendency for dominants to develop a sense of infallibility or omnipotence.”

That definition brings me full circle back to the concept of narcissism.  It is my personal belief that Top’s Disease is really just another descriptor, a synonym if you will, for a dominant who’s become increasingly narcissistic.  When anyone, dominant or otherwise, reaches the point that they honestly believe in their own infallibility, they are headed down a path of destruction.  It’s not pretty to live, or to watch . . .

It’s not just direction, leadership, and/or control that submissive’s truly crave, it’s also strength of character as well as responsibility.  Sadly, responsibility is a trait that seems to be particularly lacking in individuals consumed by their own sense of self worth.

So, just as we may prescribe particular rituals for the wonderful submissives who give us the ability to exert our dominance, exercises which reinforce and reassure them in their submission, we must also find and practice appropriate rituals ourselves.  We must continually develop and deploy strategies which keep ourselves grounded, sensible, and realistic in our own behaviors and expectations.

It’s been said that the cost of liberty is eternal vigilance.  I’d like to posit that we must, as dominants, pay a similar price in return for the wonderful benefits we enjoy in our position of authority.

IML2012 – picking up a Dungeon Bed

IML2012 – picking up a Dungeon Bed

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Throwback Thursday

For Throwback Thursday, a post about IML2012 . . .

It’s no secret that Serafina and I recently invested in a beautiful piece of BDSM furniture, the Dore Alley bed from DungeonBeds.  The bed’s been a dream of mine for quite a while, so when I discovered DungeonBeds.com offering a significant discount for the bed that would be displayed at IML2012 in Chicago, we found a way to make the purchase happen.  The bed was available for pick-up from the DungeonBeds display at the IML Marketplace at the event’s end late Monday afternoon, so we spent our Memorial Day in a very unique fashion.

Also making the day unique was our company, as we were joined by another local couple who live a M/s lifestyle.  We very much enjoyed their company.  Although this was just the second time we’ve ever managed to meet up in person, conversation rolled along as if we’d been lifelong friends, making the entire day a little richer for their presence.

And, at the end of the day, we couldn’t have brought the bed into our home without their help, as the headboard is so heavy that it was a little bit of a struggle for us to bring it into our home with three of us lifting and pushing.  I’m feeling the effects of the workout still today!

The day started in a Ryder MetroVan, an absolute necessity because the headboard is a single solid piece.  It’s big, it’s heavy, and it wouldn’t have fit inside a pick-up truck’s bed well enough to satisfy me for a multi-hour drive home.

Sure, it might have worked and saved me the rental cost, but when I’m spending several thousand dollars on a bed, I’m not going to get cheap on transportation and risk bashing up my investment.

For a big moving van, the Ryder wasn’t too bad at all to drive.  We raced down the Illinois Tollway in it making good time, with Master’s up front, and our slave’s lounging together in the back on futon mattresses.

On the trip, Serafina got to show off her massage and Reiki skills, helping to partially relieve Master Dream’s precious treasure’s migraine headache.  Seemingly, before we knew it, we were looking up at the former Sear’s Tower in downtown Chicago.

Without any traffic drama or navigation difficulties, we drove down the urban canyons of downtown, just a block over from Michigan Avenue’s ‘Miracle Mile’, and arrived at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on East Wacker Drive.

Parking looked to be a challenge, and I found myself circling the Hyatt Regency much as some dog’s circle before laying down to sleep.  On the first two passes around our destination, I simply couldn’t discern any parking opportunities, I couldn’t even seem to find one of downtown Chicago’s ubiquitous underground ramps.  Doing my best Clark “Sparky” Griswold impression, I called back to the girls, “Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament . . . ”

Then, turning around at an odd dead end turnaround facing out toward’s Lake Michigan, I found something that was absolutely priceless for someone driving a huge bulky moving van in Chicago’s congested downtown area, wide open on-street parking where I had plenty of room to maneuver and park the big beast.  Good fortune was already smiling down upon us!

the view from where we parked
looking from where we parked towards Lake Michigan – I think the Ferris wheel on the horizon is on Chicago’s Navy Pier

It wasn’t much more than a block to walk from where we parked to our destination, so as soon as I’d figured out how to work Chicago’s self pay parking meter (with the help of a cute little fellow who was obviously also an IML partier – I could tell by the slave tags around his neck) we trekked off to our destination.

The signs inside the front door that said – Hotel Closed for Private Event – assured that we were in the right place, as did our first sighting of a man wearing little more than a jock and a collar.  We’d arrived.

Our guests for the day had been to IML2011, so they were able to quickly guide us all down a pair of escalators, thru a registration area where we paid and were given our IML2012 wrist bands, and on down another level to the vending area.  The room was massive, with long rows of displays by more BDSM gear vendors than I’d ever imagined existed.

Wow!

IML 2012 – something exciting was happening at every turn

Although I’ve been living a BDSM lifestyle for many years, I’d never managed to ever attend an event of this sort.  My ex-submissive Blissful Torment was always too uptight to attend anything of this kind, after all these aren’t the kind of stories she could have told her co-workers when they talked about their weekend’s activities . . .

Prior to this year, Serafina and I had been too busy with caregiver responsibilities to even get away for a day, so everything about IML was brand new to me.  It was a little overwhelming.  The room was so vast, with row upon row of gear displays, it was a bit hard to know even where to begin.

inside IML2012’s vending area

Lacking a complete plan, we simply dove in and started browsing.  Before long, I started shopping.

I’ve never hid my love of floggers. I’m to the point where I consider myself more than just an aficionado, I’m perhaps approaching the level of becoming a flogger connoisseur.  As I told one of the vendors, not only do I expect a flogger to be functional, I also consider them to be works of art.  At the end of the day, I found and purchased two more floggers for my collection.

The first is a big, long, and heavy, suede leather mop.  It’s without a doubt now the heaviest flogger in my collection.  I didn’t count (yet) for myself, but the vendor told me there were just over 100 total falls, and to my eye, at a glance, that looks correct.  It’s very impressive looking, all black leather, so it will nicely match my all black floggers in both Elk and Goatskin.

I’ve already lost the vendor information for this flogger.  Although I took their card, I took cards from a variety of vendors, and they are all mixed together.  Fortunately, I’m sure Master Dream remembers, as they were (I think) a company from which he’d made a previous purchase.

The other flogger was Serafina’s pick, and it’s easily the softest and most sensuous flogger we now own.  It was made by Heartwood Whips from a deerskin suede that is an absolute delight to touch, so very soft.  I’m positive Serafina will adore it when used on her breasts, and between her legs.

And then I found myself a beautiful leather motorcycle jacket for just $50!  I’ve never owned a black leather jacket, but I’ve always wanted one.  Scratch that one off my to-get list!  This one fits me beautifully, and looks pretty darn good on me, if I dare to say so myself.

Then I saw the DungeonBed’s display, at the end of the third or fourth row of aisles we navigated.  I felt a little bit like a child again, there was a bit of an urge to break into a run towards my bed.  That’s right, MY BED!  Ah, so close, but yet so far . . .

I did my best not to hurry our friends through the remaining displays on that aisle.  I’m sure they felt my excitement, and by that point, I think my enthusiasm was at least a little bit infectious, because moments later we were there at the DungeonBeds display.

And there it was, my bed!.

thousands of leathermen (and leatherwomen) ogled my bed this weekend wishing for one of their own

I waited as politely as I could for to introduce myself, then stuck out my hand to one of the gentlemen manning the display, and said with a huge grin, “Hi, my name’s Michael, and that’s my bed!”

With a kind smile, indulging my enthusiastic greeting, he said, “Yes, it is!” and introduced himself as Jeff.  I think that I spoke with Jens (Jeff and Jens are the DungeonBed guys) when I called about my order, so now I’d introduced myself to the other half of the team.

I’d looked at some pretty sweet St Andrew’s crosses, cages, and spanking benches as we’d wandered through the displays, but there was absolutely no doubt in my mind, my bed was the “best of show”.  Nothing else at the show even compared . . .

Master Dream’s precious treasure tries out the under bed cage!

Yes, there was plenty more to see.

No, I really don’t remember much of it at all.  Eventually, after seeing my bed, getting over that burst of excitement, everything became like a dream.

It was very much like everything had become a little bit fuzzy around the edges . . .

after the bed, everything’s a blur

No, I wasn’t really dreaming . . . To be very honest, I think my bloodsugar was getting kinda low at that point.

So, we retired upstairs to the hotel’s bistro, where we shared a nice lunch with our new friends.  And then it was time to pick up the bed.

While our slave/wives returned to the vending area to watch our bed get disassembled and packed for the ride home, the Master’s retrieved the moving van and (eventually) found the loading dock deep in the bowels of Chicago’s under-city.

The fine gentlemen from DungeonBed’s disassembled the bed with Serafina watching and taking photos. so we’d feel extremely well prepared to put things back together when we arrived home.  Everything was packaged carefully, wrapped in foam and shrink wrapped, before being leaded into the van.

the bed is disassembled for the ride home

Within little more than an hour of the show’s closing, our new bed was secured, strapped down inside the van, and we were homeward bound.

IML2012 was great fun.  I very much look forward to attending the event in future years.

But, as good as that gets, I look forward even more to getting my Serafina restrained to my new bed, not to mention setting her in the sling at the bed’s end . . .

Similar Skill Sets At Work

Similar Skill Sets At Work

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Throwback Thursday

Did you know that 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Soccer (Football to the rest of the world – but not us here in the USA . . . ) matches are happening as we speak?  

You’d probably have to be living under a rock not to know.  I mean, I seem to have picked up on the grand event, even though I’m not watching television these days.  And, not just because of Molly Moore’s upcoming SinfulSunday challenge either.  So, it seems appropriate to have a “sports desk” edition of Throwback Thursday this week.

I do have to say, it’s truly amazing what the human body can be trained to do . . . And I’m not just talking sports! Yes, it would seem that some porn starlets, those who are playing on the more extreme edge of bondage, share a similar skill set with professional athletes.

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, we wouldn’t want our porn to cost as much as a football game!

You make the call . . . I can’t be the only one to see similar skill sets at work here!

“Top rhythmic gymnasts must have many qualities: balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength are some of the most important . . . “

I guess it’s good for dominants to remember that not all submissives are as flexible as the models featured on the internet at sites such as Hogtied.com, same as not all girls aren’t as flexible as world class gymnasts competing in the Olympic Games.

With that said, it sure is fun to watch world class athletes of all kinds do their thing!

     ~ originally from SpiritualBDSM.com – 08/07/2012

sac·ro·sanct

sac·ro·sanct

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Throwback Thursday

This week’s “Throwback Thursday” posting was originally posted at SpiritualBDSM.com back on 12/19/11.

I selected it for posting today, not only because I think it’s a good essay, worthy of inclusion here, but also because it seems a timely addition to a current discussion.

The very next question in the queue for the 30 Days of Kink is about hard limits, Serafina’s answer is already scheduled for tomorrow, and mine will follow shortly thereafter.

I read the comment, “The ultimate deal breaker, I love my hair.”

I was over at tumblr.com this morning, surveying all the lovely kinky images people have shared at that site, when I ran across the accompanying picture.  As is common with tumblr, there are no credits or copyright information, so I have no idea who created this stunning image[ 2. lovely, smart, and sexy goddess of the Scavenger Hunt found the original source of the picture – Red Acedia Posture Collar
by AntisepticFashion.]  I don’t know who made the stunning collar, nor do I know the identity of the model.

What I do know is this – the comment that accompanied the photo made me chuckle.  When sharing the picture, the author of the tumblr blog bigirlfantasy said:

The ultimate deal breaker, I love my hair.

Please don’t misunderstand, in chuckling at this comment I’m not making fun of anyone’s limits or taking a jab at this individual.  Far from it.  In fact, I’m sure there are a lot of ladies, and some men too, that would balk at having their head shaved.

I’m just a lot more used to hearing or seeing different kinds of things as “hard limits” – kids, animals, scat, watersports, bloodsports, etc.  So it’s simply that this isn’t one of the common limits I’ve seen listed.

Because it wasn’t what I expected, it made me think. It struck a chord.  It made me think.

Now, I probably need to tell you that a good “think” often causes me to chuckle.   If nothing else, I laugh at the absurdity of life, and how serious and dear we sometimes hold transitory things.  Thing like hair and physical beauty are fleeting, impermanent. How and why do the matter so much?

With that said, the real reason I write this short essay isn’t to riff on metaphysics, it’s to discuss limits, and to say that all limits are sacrosanct.

sac·ro·sanct/ˈsakrōˌsaNG(k)t/

Adjective:
(esp. of a principle, place, or routine) Regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with.
Synonyms:
sacred – holy – inviolable

There are two basic kinds of limits, Hard Limits and Soft Limits.  They are similar, yet very different.

Hard Limits are serious stuff, really serious stuff.  They are urgent.  Hard Limits deserve demand our attention and respect.

Hard Limits are kind of like a fallout zone.  When you go there you can’t see the radioactivity or feel it, but trust me, it will fry you just the same.  Go there once and you are pretty much toast, done, finished, kaput.  It’s over baby!

The catchphrase to remember for the deadly nature of hard limits – “Avoid Like the Plague!”

Soft Limits are a slightly different animal.  They are also sacred and sacrosanct, but they aren’t necessarily deadly.  Instead of being absolutely disgusting, Soft Limits are usually scary things, forbidden or taboo, yet things for which we feel both attraction and dread.  There are times where soft limits can even be potent fantasy material.

Soft Limits can be approached, discussed, pondered, evaluated, and even negotiated.

As an experienced dominant, I enjoy helping a submissive challenge their soft limits.  If you are a young or inexperienced dominant, this is territory to avoid. Before somebody thinks to themselves, “These old dominants always want to keep all the good stuff for themselves,” please give me a moment to explain.

Pushing limits is not something I’d suggest for new and inexperienced dominants, because they need to need to know the great wealth of experiences to be had and enjoyed without ever approaching any kind of limit.  I see BDSM as an “additive journey” – each successive step you immerse yourself in makes the final whole that much greater and rewarding.  The beginning dominant robs themselves of many wonderful experiences and much potential pleasure by trying to skip to the head of some imaginary line.

Newer dominants need to have experienced and resolved what to do when a scene goes wrong or falls apart before approaching or pushing limits.  BDSM is a rewarding lifestyle, at least in part because it involves skills that come only with time and experience.  And please remember, “Mastery” isn’t something that is bestowed upon a person as a birthright, it’s not an exercise in self nomination, or a declaration one makes, it’s an accumulation of a lifetime of accrued skills and knowledge.

Please remember, even when you are experienced and comfortable in BDSM, even when you know you are ready to start, anxious to begin exploring this aspect of dominance and submission, playing with soft limits needs to be a slow, careful, and thoughtful process.

I guess a good analogy would be to say pushing soft limits is a lot like butt sex, assuming that ass fucking is not a hard limit …

Like with anal sex, It’s best not to push too much, if at all when playing with a soft limit.  Instead it’s far better to let the submissive relax into everything.  Always use patience, care and love, to help your submissive or slave get comfortable with the pleasure she can receive …

OK?

Now, as for shaved heads on women, I do think they are sexy.

Having her head shaved is not a limit for my slave/wife Serafina.  We discussed this a few months back when I discovered that bondage ropemaker Twisted Monk enjoyed shaving women’s heads.  I even have a plan.

Her head will be shaved the year I finally retire, the first year I no longer work for pay.

At that point, we will begin spending most of our time travelling together in an RV.  Our plan is to spend the better part of most of those “golden years” on the road, exploring North America, having kinky adventures, visiting old friends and meeting new ones.

It’s a long time away, at least 20 years for me, but I’m already making plans for travelling and living in a “mobile dungeon.”   I’m already investing in travel cases for all my BDSM gear, organizing everything with help from a company called  For Your Nymphomation.

And I’m already fantasizing about teasing Serafina with the cool air of the RV’s air conditioner, asking her how it feels on the naked flesh covering her skull.  Won’t she be quite the sight, pumping gas for me, her bare head accentuating the very obvious thick steel collar locked around her neck?

Ohh, baby!

Review – Tetruss II Suspension Frame

Review – Tetruss II Suspension Frame

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Throwback Thursday

Originally posted at SpiritualBDSM.com on June 15, 2012, this is the product review that almost caused me to stop reviewing.  I don’t need to stop to re-tell all the drama surrounding my original effort to give this product a balanced appraisal, it’s all right there in the original!

Hang ‘Em High – Tetruss II Suspension Frame Review

Tetruss II Introduction

If you are interested in suspension bondage there’s one simple fact that’s inescapable, it’s not always simple to find a solid and secure suspension anchor point.  The best anchor points available to most individuals are literally part of the framing of their home.

For instance, I’m 100% secure in suspension points in my basement that have been drilled and bolted through floor joists.  There’s an even wider center beam that I consider to be absolutely “bombproof”, and am quite sure it would hold up to most anything a submissive and I might even dream of dishing out.  It’s stable for anything short of an severe earthquake or tornado.

However, even when using a home’s frame it’s true that problems can erupt.  For instance, not all ceiling joists are designed to withstand strong downward forces from below, so I’m not ever going to recommend that suspension points be placed using uninhabitable and/or un-floored attics as an anchor.  Sure there may be homes constructed to withstand such perversion, but without a personal visit and look see for myself, or an expert consultation from an architect, it’s not something I’ll ever recommend.

Then there’s the issue of individuals who don’t own their home.  My personal interest in extreme bondage certainly started long before I became a homeowner, as I was a renter up into my 30’s.   Certainly, I’m never going to suggest that anyone make significant alterations to property they don’t own, in most cases to do so is not only immoral, it’s also usually illegal.

And, it’s not just renters who may struggle with the lack of available suspension anchors.  There are always going to be times when a suspension bondage aficionado’s desires lead them away from the security of bombproof anchors in their own home, and off into terra incognita, the realm of unknown lands and anchor points.

That’s where tools like the Tetruss are intended to come to the rescue.  Tetruss is an aluminum tube tripod customized and designed specifically for suspension bondage.  Designed to fit under an 8 foot ceiling, the Tetruss is lightweight and compact enough to be relatively portable, yet solid and sturdy enough to provide a platform for basic suspension bondage.

Here’s rope manufacturer, sex professional, and BDSM personality Twisted Monk’s video review of the Tetruss II . . .

The Product

As I covered in the introduction, the Tetruss is designed to be a light weight and portable solution for individuals wanting to create a solid anchor point for suspension bondage.  It’s certainly light in weight and very portable, that part is true.

But when I really stop and consider the big picture, those two attributes, being light in weight and portable, are truly the sum total of it’s advantages.  Unfortunately, there are disadvantages too, as I’m about to cover.

Most of the package is composed of bare tubular aluminum pieces, with a welded top plate that’s the crux of the device, and some assorted hardware thrown in for good measure.  The package is all put together for shipping in an amateurish fashion, apparently little thought was put into shipping, is it appears most everything was thrown pretty loosely into a box, then sealed and shipped.

I would have preferred some better internal stabilization as the package came badly crushed from it’s own weight and internal shifting.  A few Shekels spent on some foam packing, rather than the cheap packing paper, would be a significant improvement.

The plastic bags that held our little hardware bits had spit during it’s journey to our home, so when we got the packaging open, little bits of hardware spewed across our floor.  A few pennies worth of shrink wrap, as well as the foam padding I mentioned earlier, would hold things better in place and would have resolved all those problems.

The most important attribute in an anchor for suspension bondage is that it be what rock climbers would call “bombproof”.  In partaking in suspension bondage, you and your submissive are partaking in a form of edge play, you are trusting that your abilities and knowledge will protect her health and well being.   The last thing you want to worry about is that your equipment itself might not be up to the task.

And that’s where I worry . . .

The Tetruss is really not as sturdy or as stable as I’d like for a device that’s going to be holding the weight of my most precious possession, Serafina.  When any kind of significant load (50 lbs) is hung from the Tetruss suspension point, the 3 arms very visibly move under the load.  There’s a bit of give and sag in the aluminum when loaded, and while this may not be evidence that the rig will fail, it’s not exactly the kind of thing that gives a person great confidence either.

As Twisted Monk pointed out in his review, the cotter pins which hold the arms together are cheap and while serviceable, they beg for replacement with something more trustworthy.  It’s an obvious weak point, as I’m not terribly keen on trusting my Serafina’s health to such a cheap piece of metal.  I can’t see how making a stronger pin part of the package would have been a problem, but as we eventually discovered, the man who designs and builds the Tetruss seems to march to the tune of his own drummer, so apparently Monk’s constructive criticism is lost on such a man . . .

The three rubber caps for the feet also fail to inspire great confidence, as they seem to do very little to stabilize the device, and they’d seem likely to wear through pretty quickly.  I doubt ours will ever get that much use, as I really don’t feel comfortable with the product suspending my slave/wife, but for folks who decide it’s “safe enough”, I can imagine the sharp aluminum poles cutting thru the rubber feet inside of a few strenuous uses.

The Vendor
I guess at this point it’s pretty clear that I’m disappointed with the Tetruss.  The vast majority of my dissatisfaction comes from the inherent failings of the product itself, but I’d not be totally honest if I didn’t admit that I’ve also developed a dislike for the manufacturer.
To put it succinctly, my impression of the dude is that he’s more than a little “squirrely” – he’s an odd duck and I didn’t care for either his manner, or his business practices.  To be very honest, he’s the reason I’ve nearly given up on ever doing more product reviews.  Life’s too short to mess with idiots, and if I want gear, I’ll just buy it.
The product’s maker and vendor originally approached my slave/wife Serafina about the possibility of getting a review for Tetruss here on our blog.  I thought it was a little strange that he’d approach my slave instead of me, as he’s supposed to be an experienced dominant, and it would seem natural that hhe’d discuss business with myself, rather than with my submissive.
Originally he promised us a steep discount in return for the review, and he also mentioned the possibility of some kind of affiliate arrangement as well, where we’d get some kind of compensation for customers who placed orders after following links from our site.
I wrote the guy with questions, he never answered me.  When Serafina wrote him, she got a response.  I found this odd, but I wrote it off at the time as not terribly important.  I mean, once I start a correspondence on a topic with one individual, I don’t like carrying it over to other people.
When Serafina pressed him for more details about affiliate arrangements, he asked us if we knew any good companies to track such things.  Geesh!  Once again, I found this odd, but it was during the Holidays and I didn’t give it too much thought.
So it became clear there wouldn’t be any affiliate deal, I was kind of leaning away from advertisements on the blog anyway . . .
We ended up haggling about price too, as his idea of a “steep” discount wasn’t even a 20% reduction.  Considering that he’d approached us about the review, this didn’t seem to be acceptable.  I think I got the price mark down moved to about 25%, but even then there were further problems.
He gave us an discount number to use when checking out our product, and it didn’t work.  He wrote that he was having problems with his online cash register, and we’d be welcome to purchase the product at full price, then he’d credit my card with the discount.  That didn’t sound right to me.
Still, he wasn’t communicating with me directly, instead he was still only responding to email from my slave.  I should have realized then that this guy was pretty weird, but I’d also started looking forward to using the device too.  I let my enthusiasm get the better part of my judgement, so I countered with an offer that I’d pay full price for the Tetruss if he’d throw in a spreader bar assembly.
Essentially, that’s what I did with the Tetruss, I paid full price for this product, with the agreement that the spreader bar would be complimentary with the purchase.  The manufacturer charged my credit card, then informed me that deliver would be 6 weeks away!
Geesh again!  When the dude came sniffing around for a review, I would have blown him off rather quickly had I known in advance how difficult the whole thing would become.  And when offering a product for review, I’d not have thought that I’d have a month and a half wait after my card was charged for the product to be manufactured.
When the spreader bar got here, and I realized is was perhaps a $5 to $10 piece of tubular aluminum with two holes drilled in it, I realized that I’d been taken in by a dude who was more interested in profiting from my purchase than he was in benefiting from a review.
A couple weeks after the product arrived, he shot a terse email to Serafina asking why we had not yet posted a review?
It took him six weeks to make the junk, and now we were expected to review it within two?
I wanted to write the man a “fuck you” letter, but I decided to simply not write back at all.  As you might understand by this point, I don’t like this dude.  My review shows it too, don’t you think?
The product is at best serviceable, which is more than I can say about the manufacturer’s customer relations skills.  I think it’s really worth about 1/2 of the price being charged, and that’s with the caveat that even for that reduced price, I’d expect better hardware and packaging.
Maybe it’s not what any of us expected when we started down this path, but I’m convinced it’s the review he and his product deserve.  I walk away with my head held high, knowing that even if I savaged the man and his product, at least I delivered what I promised!
Throw Back Thursday – What Do You Want?

Throw Back Thursday – What Do You Want?

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Throwback Thursday

One funny thing about blogging, it’s almost impossible to anticipate what will strike a nerve with people.  At SpiritualBDSM.com, the following post has turned out to be by far my most popular.

It’s not about gags, or whips, or bondage.  Strangely enough, it’s simply about finding what we want out of life . . .

What do you want?

Listen, it dont really matter to me.
Baby, you believe what you wanna believe.
You see, you don’t have to live like a refugee.

— Tom Petty

Although it feels inspired, this post’s title and inspiration come from another sex blog named The Pervocracy, where the Wed 12-14-2011 post was named, believe it or not, “What do you want?“.  I’m quite the wizard when it comes to inspiration, huh?

The truth be told, I’ve got a number of pending posts in the queue, waiting for a finishing touch before posting, and at other various stages of completion.  Yet, here I am this morning writing a post motivated by something I nicked from the blogroll here at SpiritualBDSM.com.

So inspiration came to me this morning, and it came in the form of a post from The Pervocracy.

Here’s a brief quote from that post:

Because I am not always sure what my desires are.  My sexuality sometimes seems frustratingly opaque to myself.  I want something, I don’t just want to kiss my boyfriend good night and go to sleep, but what on Earth is that something?  Why don’t I know what I want?
I have been taught not to credit my own desires.  In part that’s personal–one of my mom’s favorite baffling insults was “you’re so selfish, all you want is the things you want!”–and in part it’s cultural.  The socialization of young women is all about how to not indulge your desires: don’t choose food because it tastes good, don’t choose clothing because it’s comfortable, don’t come on too strong to boys, don’t be a needy girlfriend, don’t say “no” too stridently or “yes” too enthusiastically.  It’s not the charitable or ascetic kind of self-denial, but there’s a lot of desire-denial, of doing things correctly instead of the way you want.

I think these are issues a lot of us face, especially as we come to terms with what some might consider to be the darker side of our sexuality.  When our minds secretly go to places that “vanilla” society forbids, when base urges and motivations are to scary at times to admit to ourselves, let alone share with a partner.

At least part of the reason Serafina and I have chosen to blog about our alternative sexuality is to facilitate our own exploration, to sometimes give ourselves a place to write what we might not be able to say.  Sometimes that means figuring out what’s really going on in our own minds.

Unfortunately, for a lot of folks, honest self-reflection is a tall order to fill.  Letting go of ego and expectations is a little harder for most people than they would even like to admit.  Hence Thoreau’s saying that not only do:

 “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” 

But, also that:

“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”

If we take those dictums and apply them to our erotic desires, it does lead us right back to the question, “What do you want?”

That note from the Pervocracy had focused my thinking.  It began with a reply I wrote there:

Thanks for a wonderful and inspiring essay!
I’m in my late 40’s, have been dominant my entire life, meaning for more than 30 years of relationships I’ve been attracted to submissive women. That background includes tying up a girlfriend for sex when I was only 17, back in 1980.
But, only within the last few months have I become truly comfortable as a dominant, have I been able to really embrace every aspect of my own sexuality, light or dark in nature.
Like the sudden motivation to quit smoking, it took a life changing experience for me to experience this epiphany,
What life changing event caused this breakthrough?
My Mother died.
I woke up one day and realized that there was no one left to “judge” me, no one left to “disappoint” by being who I really am.
Oh, that I had learned even sooner, to throw off the internal shackles I’d created for myself, the limits I’d placed on exploring my own true nature.
Only then was I free to truly ask – “What do I want?” – without considering the expectations of others.

I’m a fairly enlightened individual, or so I believe.  I’ve lived a fascinating life so far.  As I’ve confessed in that particular response, and in other postings here and on Tumblr, I’ve been of the belief that I’ve lived a life of embracing my desires.

I lost my virginity in my very early teens, an occurrence that is perhaps more common today than in the 1970’s.  I tied up a girlfriend for sex at age 17, and began regularly playing bondage games with my first wife a year later.

I was known at the restaurant where I worked as “the chef with ropes attached to his bed” – when the carefully conditioned cotton clotheslines somehow came un-tucked and un-hidden to be discovered snaking out from under a pile of coats at a party I threw.  I’m guessing somebody had their own fun under the coats, hidden in the dark bedoom, their sighs and moans muffled by the coats, drowned out by the stereo blaring in the other room.

I was known as “the swinging bossman” (among other things) to a crew of activists I directed, when they discovered my second wife and I were practicing polyamory, and had a number of very close girlfriends.  I’ve literally lived “large and in charge” with a 15+ year D/s relationship with my 2nd wife/sub, and now a 10 year M/s relationship with my beloved slave/wife Serafina.

Serafina and I started long distance, we both made numerous sacrifices to be together, but every struggle has been more than worth the effort.  We have been slowly growing into the most intense relationship and love affair I’ve ever known.  She is so many things to me, and she has truly empowered me to be myself, to embrace every part of me.

But I realized today, even with all those experiences and blessings, I’m only now ready to ask myself . . .

What do I want?

Self realization is an arduous process, it begins with asking ourselves that simple question.

It doesn’t end there however, as the next step down this path requires that we not just ask the question, but that we actually learn to truly listen to ourselves.

Meaning . . .

If you see some wild eyed man and his wife in a chariot, running a 6-horse-hitch of pretty pony girls in some kinky parade, you’ll know I actually became brave enough to keep treading down the road that’s truly less traveled

That’s to the next lesson after “listen” – to actually “act” for ourselves.

Education, Throwback Thursdays